Last weekend i embarked on my fourth trip to the studios, in which i once again marveled at how small Daniel Radcliffe actually is, drank Butterbeer and walked down Diagon Ally. I realised that i’ve never written a blog post about how much i love this experience and how much it amazes me every time i go, especially when taking first-timers with me who are taking everything in. Here’s a little bit about my experiences after my fourth trip.
(This post will contain spoilers and photos from the tour, do not continue if you haven’t been and don’t wish to know or see anything).
In case you’ve not heard about the Warner Bros. Studio Tour that is based upon the Harry Potter franchise (particularly the movies), first of all, how? Second of all, this is the deal… It’s somewhat of a Harry Potter museum. Everything that is displayed within the studio tour is the original from the movie. The wigs, outfits, staircases, portraits, candles, the Great Hall, Diagon Ally…everything has been worn or walked on by the cast members we love so much. It’s a real eye-opener to the amount of work that goes in to the movies.
Recently they’ve added the Hogwarts Express to the mix and even more recently, a fantastic walk through of The Forbidden Forest where they demonstrate how the animatronics of the spiders work, how they create a Patronus and how they got the trees to look so goddamn real. All of this is before they show you loads of artwork, models and whatever else they needed to make the movies.
As i’ve said, i’ve been before. My first trip was back in 2012 at Christmas time. The Great Hall was decorated accordingly, there was food and Christmas trees and everything you could imagine that was magical about Hogwarts. I simply fell in love with the place. Me and Sophie visited again in 2013, a little treat to ourselves before we headed off to Uni. I then returned with my best friend and my parents in 2015 to introduce them to the magic. This time, me and my girlfriend took the trip, and i couldn’t wait to introduce a fellow Harry Potter obsessive to the creativity.
The one thing i really did enjoy about this trip was the ability to take it all in without worrying about taking photos or remembering everything. The first few trips you feel the need to take photos of everything, thing’s you’ll probably never look back on and it means you’re not taking in the tour to it’s full extent. When i say there’s a lot to see, there’s A LOT to see. And it only keeps getting bigger and bigger. I really enjoyed browsing and looking over the props i’d seen before but truly taking in the beauty of it.
One of the best things about this tour for me is the atmosphere in certain areas. The Great Hall in which you step in to first has the most surreal and amazing feeling. You are stepping in to the set in which the actors you have loved and looked up to have walked in, have acted in and practically lived in for ten years of their lives. It’s such a wonderful and overwhelming feeling. It’s nice to just stand and take it in, feeling like you’re actually in Hogwarts.
Diagon Ally is the same. You don’t truly appreciate it until you’re stood at the bottom, looking up at Flourish and Blotts, Olivanders and Eeylops Owl Emporium. The atmosphere is so wonderful and you cannot help having a wander around, looking at each and every detail and appreciating it before going back to take your pictures. By far i think this is my favourite part of the tour, i absolutely adore it.
The back lot is also a very special place to be. This is the first trip i’ve been on in which they have opened Privet Drive. The Dursley’s home is now open for visitors where you can see the very comical awards on the walls that Dudley has collected over the years. Yet more things that you don’t see in the movies, but they’re definitely there. This is where you can enjoy your Butterbeer to it’s full extent and sit outside in the sun (well it was sunny for us). Here they also have a section of the Hogwarts Bridge, the Potter’s cottage and The Knight Bus. It’s a welcome break in the museum esque tour so far.
(Side note, anyone who’s going to the tour in the future keep in mind that in the back lot they DO serve food and it’s relatively reasonably priced. They’ve improved this a lot from the first time i went).
Even after my fourth trip i still marvel at the props and the sets. I don’t think i’ll ever be bored of this place, especially if they keep adding little bits to it. There’s a great sense of community while you’re there, everyone is there because of their love of Harry Potter and i’d be lying if i said i didn’t cry at two specific points each and every time i go.
It’s very difficult to not be emotional after spending six hours in a place filled with everything you love, walking through a room with every single cast and crew members names on wand boxes while the quote
Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home
shines down on you.